Mt Buller News
When the lifts stop turning - try ‘ski touring’ to stay on the slopes
SKI Touring is not only for the backcountry skiers but can be a great way of staying on the snow when COVID-19 lockdowns occur.
Ski touring, AT skiing, ski mountaineering, randonee - whatever you call it - is becoming more and more popular.
There are two essential components to ski touring - education and gear.
Before you consider what equipment you’ll want to acquire, think about where you’ll be skiing, how you plan on skiing, and the type of terrain you’ll most often encounter while skiing.
The difference between a ski-mo/ randonee racing rig (super lightweight, designed more for speedy ascents) and a side country rig (resort-friendly and not intended for a lot of skinning) is vast.
While often-heard logic of “light is right” will generally hold true for most touring setups, the balance of lightness and fun is crucial and largely dependent on your end goal.
Any downhill ski can theoretically be set up for use in the backcountry (or touring), but alpine touring skis designed specifically for backcountry use usually feature lighter weight designs that make hiking uphill drastically easier.
Many backcountry skis offer touring features like notches in the tip and tail for attaching climbing skins.
Along with low weight comes some sacrifice in other areas, usually in the ski’s ability to remain damp and chatter-free on hard snow or to resist impact damage to the base and edges. Skins:
Skins are pre-cut or ready-to-cut sections of plush material that stick to the bottom of your skis and allow you to travel uphill without sliding back down.
This is because they have a ‘nap’ that helps grip the snow in one direction, and glide in the other.
Most skins use clips that will universally attach to any ski, although pre-cut skins are often designed to interface with holes or notches in particular models of ski. Bindings:
Backcountry touring bindings allow the heel to move freely off the ski while you’re skinning uphill for an easier, more natural stride.
When it’s time to ski down, the bindings lock down in the heel.
There are several types of touring bindings: low-profile, lightweight tech bindings that are only compatible with AT boots with dimpled tech inserts, frame-style AT bindings that are compatible with traditional alpine boots, and hybrid bindings, which are a blend of the two.
This binding style places a premium on stride efficiency and low weight, rather than adjustability or downhill performance.
Hybrid bindings accept boots with tech-compatible toe fittings, but typically have a traditional alpine heel piece.
New options such as the Salomon or Atomic Shift binding offer the tech toe piece for the superior uphill performance, but then morph to offer a standard alpine toe cup for superior downhill performance.
Other things to look for in touring bindings include heel risers or climbing wires that can give you a boost under your heel for climbing steep hills.
Brakes aren’t standard on some ultralight tech bindings, but can be purchased separately, as can add-on crampons that help with traversing treacherous terrain.